Illustrator One-on-One: Fundamentals, updated for Creative Cloud (Still Thriving for Earlier Versions)

On Friday, released the CC version of Deke's Illustrator One-on-One: Fundamentals course, which covers useful foundations for vector-based drawing in Illustrator from basic artboard management and interface navigation, to drawing with the line and shape tools, placing text, tracing line art, getting started with the pen tool, and more. 

Welcome to Illustrator One-on-One Fundamentals

If you're not a member of, you can get a free week trial at to check it out. If you're not a member of Creative Cloud, Deke's earlier titles---going back to CS3---are available from this playlist I created:

A playlist of Deke's Illustrator Fundamentals course for multiple versions

The Fundamentals course has all you need to feel like you might try one of Deke's free Illustrator-based Deke's Techniques as well. If you're new to Creative Cloud you may be thinking it's time to investigate something besides Photoshop for your creative endeavors.  Read more » 

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Friday Fundamentals: Tracing Rasterized Line Art in Illustrator

Today's Friday Fundamentals (still Friday here in Colorado, plus I get a bonus hour because I'm really a Californian) celebrates the release of Deke's updated Illustrator CC One-on-One: Fundamentals course. And because I'm in charge, I'm going to cover one of the first things I was ever interested in doing with Illustrator: tracing artwork. 

Tracing Line Art in Illustrator

Tracing is handy when you have a rasterized bit of art (i.e. art that's made out of pixels) that you'd like to turn into clean Illustrator vector-based goodness. Especially if redrawing in Illustrator is beyond the limits of your time, patience, or talent (as in my case). Speaking of my case, I was trying to duplicate a logo for a baseball league, which I inherited from a person who only left behind a tiny 150-pixel GIF file when his kids grew out of little league. In Chapter 6 of Deke's updated course, he uses an intricate butterfly he drew with Sharpie and paper, then scanned into a TIF file. The process is the same. 

Changing line art or other rasterized graphics into vectors has some advantages, as you can imagine. The biggest of these involves, well, making the biggest art. Like the giant laminated posters I was trying to plaster all over town to encourage baseball registration. Since vectors are mathematically defined, you can blow your graphics up as large as you like and keep all the beautiful smoothness your baseball bats, butterflies, or other beauties deserve. 

Here are the key things to know about tracing in Illustrator that I learned from Deke's course, which apply to CS6 (and really CS5 if you can get over the interface differences), as well:  Read more » 

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Cool Colors: Kuler for iOS, free dekeDiagraming, and Other Stuff

Color. Such a compelling visual attribute that Sir Isaac Newton, smart guy with a lot of important things to think about, stuck a bodkin in his eye to study the colors it would produce. Oh, by the way, a bodkin, according to Wikipedia is a long, blunt, sewing needle kind of thing. Well, plague was raging, so I guess sticking a metal stick in your eye in the name of science wasn't such a big deal. 

You my friends, don't have to go to such extremes to consider the wonder of color in your surroundings. In fact, this week, Adobe released a (free) version of its Kuler (Kool-er) application for iOS (and updated the web version). Kuler allows you to create five-color themes that you can save, share, or (with the impending release of Illustrator CC) sync. And the new app allows you to extract those themes directly from the world around you. 

For instance, you can take a photograph---like this one I shot at Frama Coffee in Marfa, Texas, specifically for its interesting combination of color---and then create themes based on the colors within. You can use one of Kuler's five preset theme-templates, like these:

Or because, I'm a notoriously cold woman who likes her colors cool, I can drag the little circles around to create my own Custom set of colors. Like this: Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 222: Creating a Protective Aura around Your 2D Character

Deke's Techniques 222: Creating a Protective Aura around Your 2D Character

My dear dekeIpeds, imagine if you will, our curious, if unsuspecting necrowalrus, just trying to get through his day without being contaminated by random sprays of BLUDE, vee-OH-lence, or crud hue-MORE. The weight of the world, crushing his spirit. Boom-shaka-laka. If you don't know what the heel I'm talking about, you've completely missed or possibly ignored last week's Deke's Techniques post, in which Deke created this charming character and I shared a totally awesome promo movie for Battleblock Theater. 

Anyway, with all that crap going on, our guy needs a glowing red aura to keep evilness and incivility at bay. In this week's free movie, Deke shows you how do just that, using Illustrator's dynamic effects. 

You can adapt this relatively simple (once you get everything in place) technique to protect any creature you like:  Read more » 

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The Long-Awaited Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Mastery (Now with Free Samples)

This week, I bring you one of the best things on earth: free samples. And I don't mean samples of some disgustingly healthy, fat-free, high-fiber cardboard-esque reconstituted potato-chip substitute; no, today, I've got full-flavor, indulgently informative free videos to whet your appetite for Deke's new course at CS6 One-on-One: Mastery. Both good for you and truly delicious. And calorie-free, if it comes to that.

Mastery is the fourth level in Master Deke's One-on-One series, so this course covers some powerful vector-wrangling features. But don't be daunted, these helpful features are explained with Deke's usual care and clarity. Don't just take my word for it, savor the delicacies I've spread before you here. The folks at always make a percentage of each course free for the sampling, and I've included many of those treats here. (And if you'd like the full meal deal and you're not a member of, you can get a free week's subscription by going to Here's what you can expect:

Chapter 33: Using Smart Guides
You probably sense that Smart Guides are convenient for aligning aspects of your work on the fly, but in this chapter, Deke reveals some of the hidden ways you can exploit Smart Guides to create finely crafted artwork. For your consideration, check out this movie that not only helps you draw custom letters, but also is part of a heart-warming story of a man trying to create a logo for his son: 

Free Sample: Hand-drawing letters as stroked paths

Read more » 

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